A strong handsome boy meets the most beautiful girl in all the land. Sounds like your standard American love story. They hit it right off of course, until the plot comes and ruins their perfect heaven. The rest of the movie is how they struggle to make it back to that heaven. This usually doesn’t happen by honestly working through their differences. Such true-to-life discussions on how kids should be raised, or whether they should have separate bank accounts are strangely vacant. And who could blame the script-writers, would you want to watch a bland documentary about a married couple, or a romantic movie set in an ideally perfect world?
Despite how horrible the couple’s separation may be, they always make it in the end. When the love interests are about to go their separate ways BAM! Here comes the plot again, this time under the guise of fate, neatly bringing the lovebirds back together. Swelling music plays as the two chosen ones kiss. Roll the credits.
Romantic love, in all of its glory, is one of the most intense feelings a human being can have. It’s no wonder so many songs, books, and movies have been created with it in mind. Sometimes it’s nice to read the modern equivalent of Romeo and Juliet with a “happily ever after” tagged at the end. Just be sure to wake up afterward.
Romance is only one side of the coin invested in a good relationship. Patient grace is the other. It’s so enticing though, that lovely scent of romance, the lighting and mood are perfect. Everything works just right to make your heart start a thump’n. Patient grace is for those other times. Because let’s face it, no one is perfect, and we could all use a little grace in our lives. Being patient with your significant other leads to forgiveness, a do-over, which creates something that will last through the years.
Very few American love stories depict this fact, movies least of all. It’s always that perfect setting the two meet in. Nothing goes completely wrong, and anything wrong is made right, as if it were meant to be. Everything is said just like she wants it heard. She is flawless in his eyes with perfect lighting and makeup. It’s almost as if there was a whole crew of people working on the setup and words. Patience grace is necessary in the real world. He’s not always going to say those lines that make you swoon just the way you want it. She’s not always going to look like that perfect beauty.
As much as I want to meet a woman that satisfies my every sensual craving, I also want a relationship that lasts. Romance, as intriguing as it is, is a roller coaster of emotions that question love and compare it to the ideal. The patient love of grace endures all things until the end. It teaches you how to be content with what you have. Despite what you’ve heard from Disney, this is not a bad thing. Joy and happiness are at the end of a road paved by contented thoughts.
Americans often overlook this, pushed by the media to reach high for the stars, wishing for perfection in an imperfect world. This is where the problems creep up. Couples expecting their lives to be a fairytale story often find the opposite.
So what do you do when your prince charming becomes a couch potato? Dump the loser and go find another prince charming. Search after that elusive ideal of love. And what if that princess becomes a little too wide around the edges? Drop the old bag, and find that elusive beauty. Good luck with that by the way! The road to bitterness and regret is paved by impossible dreams. In fact, the only prefect person you will find in this world is Jesus and you can’t find him by running away from reality.
The solution to all this is simple: be more patient with your significant other. Love them for who they are. Stop trying to change them. Be content.
Simple concepts really, yet getting there is far from easy. This is because romantic love immediately answers a fundamental question we all have buried within the heart. Two questions actually, one for the man and another for the woman.
“Am I strong?” Ponders the boy.
“Do I look beautiful?” Wonders the girl.
Romantic love is the culmination of this question. It is the climax of a friendship transformed into something much more. The problem is, once the question of beauty and strength is answered, it doesn’t just go away. Romance ebbs and flows. When it is on the downside, that nagging question remains. “Am I strong?” “Am I beautiful?”
With patient love, your significant other will stick around to remind you of how strong or beautiful you are.
This is the problem I see in romantic movies. They focus on the sex more than anything else. People see how wonderful it is on the silver screen. Whenever this type of scripted romance is lacking, they change partners, thinking it was because he or she wasn’t the right one. Fate hasn’t guided them towards their perfect other. They become romance chasers, never satisfied or content with what they have. Long-lasting relationships are built on something deeper than this.
Before romance even begins, we should answer the question of strength or beauty for ourselves. For a long time I struggled with my own answer. I’d get angry and short with others. Life didn’t seem to be going my way. I didn’t seem strong enough to overcome my issues. Rather than stand up and do something about it, I would sit and mope. Very recently, I started doing a daily workout routine. Nothing special really, just something that pushes me to the end of my strength.
It was amazing to see how the ten-minute workouts affected my self-esteem. There was something other than muscles growing inside me. I became less stressful, more focused on work, and all around happy. I felt like a lion on the prowl, ready to conquer any obstacle in my way. In short, I felt like a man. This is because the ten minutes of exercise answered that question so dear to my heart: “am I strong?”
“Yes” my sweating body replied, “now go and seize the day!”
With the woman, it’s much the same. They spend hours fixing their hair, 40$ to get those nails done, shopping in every store for that perfect outfit. They do this to answer that question of beauty lingering inside them.
Many people search this answer from another’s lips. Our romance-induced media isn’t helping. For the longest time I was under the impression that only my significant other could tell me if I was strong. This made my question of manhood directly tied to any girl I liked. If I didn’t win her heart, I felt like less of a man, which made me appear needy, and therefore less likely for me to find a girlfriend. This would have never changed had I received that perfect love back then. She can only answer this question if I answer it for myself first.
Men of confidence are very attractive to women. In the same way, women who are confident in their appearance are more attractive to men. We are wired to think this way. Someone who appears needy is not going to find an answer to that elusive question.
“Are you strong?”
“Are you beautiful?”
The answer is always yes. The trick is defining what you are strong and beautiful in.
Read how these questions can be manipulated into a vicious cycle of self-hatred in, I Have Three Questions for Living.